Friday, September 30, 2022

Zoo's Clues

Some may think that the leopard is one of the most dangerous cats, but it has never had to face this kitty. . . Just kidding. 

During the summer I planned to go to Hogle Zoo (at Salt Lake City) to show my daughter a real-life giraffe, her favorite animal so far. We initially planned to go the beginning of the summer, but then my family got Covid, and it took us longer to recover. Well, since General Conference is approaching and the giraffe at the zoo just had a baby, we thought this would be a prime time to go see the giraffes. 

Sadly, the day that we went the giraffes didn’t come out because KSL was filming about the newest addition. Even though we were not able to see them there were many other fun animals.

I have never been to Hogle Zoo before, and I forgot how much I enjoy being at the Zoo. The last time I went to one was right before my mission over a decade ago. I do not know who enjoyed it more me or my daughter. There were so many exotic animals and even though it was hard to see some of them, the ones that we did see looked majestic. I can see myself going to the zoo more often so I can get a good view of all the animals. I also like that this is a place were we can learn more about the animals.

You cannot trust the predators in the zoo, they are always lion.

Looking at all these animals I couldn’t help but think about the creation of the world. In Genesis 1:24 it says, “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.” And in Genesis 2:20 “And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.” God spent the same amount of time to create the animals as he did to split the night from day and to make man. This tells me that they are important enough to spend time creating a variety of them.

My favorite animal is the tiger and even though it was asleep I felt like a kid looking at it. I would be willing to come back to the zoo and watch it while it is awake. I wouldn't mind seeing it eat either. I have only been to two zoo's that had tigers and both times they were asleep. One day I will see them awake. 

 I need to know what time it is rhino.

I have never seen a rhino before and it looks so cool! I wish I could see it play around. 

I dreamed that monkeys were falling out of the sky. It was a real ape-ril shower.

Here is an ape just chilling trying to stay out of the sun. 

Snakes are only measured in inches - they don't have feet.

I am not a fan of snakes, but I don't want my daughter scared of them. It's a good thing I am not terrified of them. When I came across this snake I thought the colors were cool. I wouldn't want to own one, but I will admit it looked cool. 

Being inside playing games, watching movies/shows/games, reading books are relaxing and gives us a period to escape from our daily demands from life, but we can have fun being outside as well. I enjoyed my time at the zoo, I am planning on going back with my family. What outdoor activity do you like?

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

A Gospel Perspective on Rings of Power

(Guest Post by Tember) 

As a young man, I read The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Silmarillion, and some of the Unfinished Tales. I’ve always been captivated by Tolkien's brand of fantasy more than any other, because of the complexity, thoroughness, and quasi-plausibility of such a world existing, especially with his ability to create languages for the various races. And, although I wouldn’t consider myself as a well-versed “scholar”  in every detail of Tolkien lore, I’m familiar enough with his creation to hopefully give a decent review here. 

For years, I have been waiting for a film or series like this! So, it’s great to finally see it come to fruition. Admittedly, I would love to have seen something depicting the First Age and Morgoth’s destruction of the Trees and theft of the Silmarils, but the Rings of Power depiction of the Second Age is pretty awesome. 

Although the acting is a little too melodramatic for my taste, and the producers are taking quite a bit of editorial license, incorporating non-canonical details into the story, overall I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the series. It’s going to be interesting to see how this series will manage to condense the 3,500-year history of the Second Age into 8 seasons, but I think they’re doing a decent job trying to portray major events relatively concurrently. 

Some critics are knocking the fact that Amazon has incorporated more multi-racial actors into the series, truthfully, Tolkien did allow more diversity in deeper between men and dwarves, some being described as having darker skin. Tolkien particularly described the Harfoots, ancestors of the Hobbits, “were browner of skin, smaller, and shorter, and they were beardless and bootless” (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings, JRR Tolkien). So, I welcome a diversity of skin color among the races that’s depicted. 

One of the common themes I saw throughout the series so far, is the prevalence of pride, arrogance, and willful blindness among the different races: the elves not wanting to acknowledge the resurgence of Sauron; the men of Middle Earth disliking the elves and denying any trouble arising from the East; the men of Númenor and their similar enmity with the elves and defying the ban of the Valar (the gods). Ultimately, it’s their pride that will allow Sauron to deceive them and dominate the land. It’s their pride that will cause Ilúvatar (the creator god) to sink Númenor and all of its sin into the depths of the sea. 

This is a crucial message for us to remember, as Latter-day Saints; that pride is the root of all sin. Like with the Númenorians, it was the Nephites’ pride that led to their destruction. Let us seek to rid ourselves of pride, for “none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart” (Moroni 7:44). Let us not in arrogance reject the counsel of God and his living prophets, but humbly submit to his will and lose our lives in the Lord’s service. This is the key to joy and prosperity. 

Monday, September 26, 2022

15 Doctor Who Companions Who Can Return

The modern era of Doctor Who has a reputation of killing off companions to end their tenure. However, that’s not actually true… in the modern era, only Clara and Bill died (technically Amy and Rory were sent to the past, not killed). That being said, Doctor Who has a knack for removing companions in a way that they definitely can’t come back (i.e. Rose trapped in an alternate universe, Donna’s memory wiped, Amy and Rory lost in time, etc.). Even so, there are plenty of companions who left on their own accord. Two such classic companions are supposed to appear in the upcoming BBC Centenary special entitled “Power of the Doctor.” Each Doctor has at least one companion like that, so I just wanted to talk about a few of them. (Potential spoilers ahead)

Susan Foreman

The First Doctor’s first companion (as far as we know) was his granddaughter Susan. It was because of her that the Doctor started traveling around with humans, after Ian and Barbara stumbled into the TARDIS. Susan was left behind in the 22nd Century to be with a man she’d fallen in love with. The First Doctor promised he’d return for her and I don’t think their encounter during The Five Doctors counts.

Ben Jackson and Polly Wright

Originally traveling with the First Doctor, Polly and Ben were around for his regeneration into the Second Doctor. However, the two later returned to their lives in 20th Century England. According to some reports, they got married eventually and based on Sarah Jane’s recollection, they were running an orphanage in India. So what’s to stop the Doctor dropping into 21st Century India and picking up a couple of old friends?

Jo Grant Jones

She was my favorite of the Third Doctor’s companions, but she also had the opportunity to work with the Second and the Eleventh Doctors. While with UNIT, she met and married her husband, leaving UNIT and the Doctor in the process. However, we know that in later years, after having kids and grandkids, Jo met Sarah Jane Smith and the Eleventh Doctor at his funeral. She and Eleven ended on good terms, so why not drop into the Amazon (or wherever Jo finds herself) and incorporate her and/or her family into a story?

Harry Sullivan

EDIT: I was corrected after initially writing this post; Ian Marter, who played Harry, died in 1986. So while the character is alive as of Sarah Jane's comment, he wouldn't return.

As a UNIT employee, he only traveled in the TARDIS for a short time, but he left his impression on Sarah Jane Smith. A doctor himself, Sarah Jane recalled that he spent his time after the Fourth Doctor and (presumably) UNIT, he was instrumental in developing and distributing vaccines to many people, saving lives. With the supposed return of UNIT personnel in the Centenary special, it would be plausible for Harry to appear. Unlikely, but plausible. 

Tegan Jovanka

First an unwitting companion of the Fourth Doctor, Tegan later traveled willingly with the Fifth Doctor. But the destruction he left in his wake became too much for her. She left the TARDIS (regretting it almost instantly). Her post-TARDIS life was spent campaigning for Aboriginal rights… until this month. We don’t know in what capacity she’ll appear… but she’s returning to team up with the Thirteenth Doctor and some other friends.

Melanie Bush

Her history is a bit muddled (wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff) but as far as we know in the current timeline, she began traveling with the Doctor during his trial on Gallifrey. She continued with the Seventh Doctor, eventually staying in the distant future to travel. Unlikely to appear in the Centenary special, but who knows for future Doctors and future stories? 

Dorothy “Ace” McShane

We don’t know what happened to Ace after the end of the classic era of Doctor Who and why she left the TARDIS. However, her time with the Seventh Doctor is one of my favorite eras of Classic Who. When I met Sylvester McCoy and asked him about Ace, he said he likes to think she got into politics and made a difference that way. Sarah Jane, however, noted that a woman named Dorothy ran a charity organization, later seen in this clip. So as such, I’m excited to see Ace return for the special, alongside Tegan and others.

Grace Holloway

She only appeared on screen for the TV movie, but spin-off material would suggest that the Eighth Doctor had more interactions with Grace after their Y2K scare. Very few American companions have traveled with the Doctor, but Grace could have been the first (unless you count Peri and her poor accent). Still, as far as we know, she’s still in the United States, probably still in San Francisco, helping and maybe waiting for the Doctor.

Captain Jack Harkness

We’ve seen Captain Jack return multiple times since he was a regular TARDIS companion. After the Ninth Doctor left him behind, he teamed up with the Tenth Doctor (on multiple occasions) and the Thirteenth Doctor. Because of how Rose resurrected him, he’s not dying any time soon… so you never know when Captain Jack could return.

Martha Jones

After falling for the Tenth Doctor, she left the TARDIS, finished med school, and joined UNIT. I’ve never seen Torchwood, but apparently she shows up there too. She’s never been my favorite companion… I actually thought she was kind of bland during her time with the Tenth Doctor… until she left and returned. She definitely had some growth throughout her time on the show and she’s definitely done well for herself since leaving the TARDIS. So I wouldn’t mind a return visit from Dr. Jones (or it might be Dr. Jones-Smith now).

Clara Oswald

I know she already died, technically. But that version of Clara plucked between heartbeats could still be traveling around time and space with Me. So while Clara is dead in London in the present day, there’s no stopping them from bringing her back again. Especially since the Twelfth Doctor had his memories of her restored shortly before he regenerated. Or at the very least, why not have a splinter of Clara (like Oswin) show up?


He was kind of an odd choice of companion for the Twelfth Doctor, but I'll always be grateful for the comic timing he brought to the TARDIS team. He's also the only properly living companion of the Twelfth Doctor... granted he's part cyborg, but still. After the encounter with the Mondasian Cybermen, he stayed behind to help a fragment of human civilization still recovering. Though in some ways he was just left behind. At any rate, the Doctor could return to that ship and retrieve Nardole if he/she wanted.

Graham O’Brien and Ryan Sinclair 

The most recent companions to leave the TARDIS. The Thirteenth Doctor left them with a psychic paper and a charge to protect the Earth. How literal she was about that… who knows? But we do know Graham will return for the Centenary special. Ryan, no word yet. But you never know what’ll happen at a later date.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to the return of Tegan, Ace, and Graham. Now excuse me while I finish rewatching Series 13 in preparation for next month. 

Friday, September 23, 2022

Scrubs - My COVID Comfort Show

(Guest post by Jeramy)

Back in the early 2000’s (can’t believe I am saying that), one of my favorite shows to watch was Scrubs. My roommate and I would invite several friends over to watch it each week.

Recently as I was waiting out my time in quarantine, bored out of my mind with COVID, I discovered that this beloved sitcom from the early 2000’s (yep, still feels weird to say that) was on Hulu.  I wondered if this show I loved so much and anticipated that night of the week when a new episode was available, was still as funny as I remembered it.

Almost instantly, I was taken back to the time when I first met these characters and started again to love and laugh with these quirky but relatable characters.

Whether it was the internal-monologuing with JD, or the trying to fit in and find a place in this crazy world with Elliot, and the unforgettable non-stop ranting of narcissist  Dr. Cox, I was again swept into the world of Sacred Heart Hospital.

There are many laughable moments and I was amazed at how many episodes and people I remembered from this series.  As I am re-watching it, I forget how many characters I really liked in this series.  How can you forget the middle-aged-never-respected lawyer, Ted; or the not-sure-how-he-got-through-medical-school, Doug (who is never referred to as doctor); or the always-ready-to get-in-a-quick-sassy-jab, Nurse Roberts.  You have the Turk and Carla love story—-alongside the Turk and JD love story (It’s Guy Love—you know the song).  My hand still hurts every time I watch The Tod give his infamous high fives to different characters throughout the run of the series.  

As I was rewatching this, I was thinking about what it was about this show that made me love it so much.  There were so many fun and interesting characters and story lines.  There were humorous moments sometimes surrounding sobering moments.  Sometimes JD’s monologues had life lessons attached to them.  

I think overall that I just found myself relating to so many of these characters and their life struggles, but the one character that I definitely related to the most was Elliot’s character—minus the posh lifestyle growing up.  This character found herself in a world where she didn’t fit and was always trying to prove herself and find herself in a grown up world where everyone seemed to know exactly who they were. 

I still indeed love watching this sitcom and reconnecting with these characters.  I still get excited to watch the next episode—and glad I don’t have to wait an entire week to see the next one.  If nothing else, there is one thing I learned from this funny and at times irreverent sitcom—-I can’t do this all on my own.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Disney Dreamlight Valley

 Disney has an interesting history with video games. They used to be champs of the simultaneous movie tie-in game back with Lion King and Aladdin for the Genesis. The game they've been wanting to make for years though is The Disney Game, a game where all their highest selling franchises can come together and create a virtual Disneyland that people will flock to for years to come. Kingdom Hearts would've been that if the plot made any sort of sense. Disney Infinity was that for a minute until the cost to create the hardware became too much to handle, and now they're trying again with Disney Dreamlight Valley.

Not Animal Crossing

If you haven't really heard of Disney Dreamlight Valley specifically, you may know it by its nickname Disney Animal Crossing. The game takes place on an island where you are the leader in charge of making homes for residents and decorating, farming, fishing, mining and crafting for the inhabitants. The big differences between Dreamlight and Animal Crossing is that there's no multiplayer and instead of cute stuffed animal people your island is inhabited by Disney/Pixar characters. 

I could get into the story as to how WALL-E and Ariel are currently in the same zip code, but honestly the main story isn't the reason to play the game. The reason to play it is to befriend all your favorite Disney characters and pretend that you're hanging out with them, made easier by the game's hang out feature. Basically you ask a character if they want to hang out with you, and since none of them are ever doing anything more important than chilling out, they follow you around and you increase friendship with them by letting them watch you harvest materials. 

I know for some this gameplay loop might sound boring, but honestly I've played for over 40 hours at time of writing and it still warms my heart every time I turn a corner and see Scrooge McDuck wandering around, or go to my garden and see Merlin and Ariel having a conversation. It feels like seeing a friend at the grocery store and being able to say a quick hi. 

Early Access

Good news: At time of writing the game is $29.99. 

Bad news: At time of writing the game is in early access. 

What this means is that the game, at least on the Switch, hard crashes at least once a play session. Luckily the auto-save is extremely frequent so I've never had to redo anything more than talk to the last person I talked to. The graphics tend to be slower than I would like as well, so those people who complain about realism and FPS rates will have a hard time enjoying seeing a slightly off Goofy fishing. And of course most of the content isn't out yet, despite unreleased characters being featured IN ALL THE ADVERTISMENTS! 

Okay here's where we get down to my truly big complaint about the game: I had no idea it was early access when I bought it. The Switch listing doesn't say anything about it, the advertisements make it feel like the game is in full release, and nothing in the game pops up and says "Hay, if this game seems a little empty it's because we're still building it so we'll let you know when we have to take time out of your life to load up a massive expansion to get more stuff. Thanks!" 

Final Review: 

None of the early access stuff was a deal breaker. Like I said I've put 40+ hours into it and had to physically tear myself away from the game to write this review for it. The game is the Disney game, the one they've been trying, and are technically still trying, to make. What we have so far is a great proven concept that, with a little polish and a LOT more content, could be the next hot thing for those of us who need more Disney in our lives to escape the painful reality we live in now. 


Monday, September 19, 2022

Pokemon Teams for Central Perk

Imagine for a moment if Monica and Rachel has duked it out with Joey and Chandler for the good apartment, not with a trivia contest, but in a Pokemon battle. What if Ross and Phoebe's argument about evolution had devolved into a Pokemon battle? When Joey wanted to take the foosball table, what if Chandler had challenged him? In the end, this is just another way for me to indulge my love of crossovers, but check out the Pokemon teams I thought would be appropriate for our friends on Friends.

Also check out our Friends-themed Pokemon nicknames.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Why the X-Men SHOULD Be In The MCU

 Okay so full disclosure: 

I was planning on writing this back in February when I wrote the companion piece, but life happened and I didn't get around to it. I'm glad I didn't though, because we've had some developments in the MCU that is relevant and need to be discussed.

The thing is, I'm still on the side that the X-Men is better outside the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I'm open to them joining. Here's why...

Completing the Story

Since the conception of the X-Men, they've existed in the Marvel Universe along with the Avengers. The Maximoff twins are the children of Magneto, and their joining the Avengers is reflective of them rejecting their father but still not agreeing with Xavier. Rogue gained her flying abilities and super strength from "killing" Captain Marvel (Turns out she wasn't really dead, secret base retcon yada yada). Wolverine and Captain America used to bust Nazi heads back in the day. 

The MCU has always had to skirt around the missing mutants in their storylines, creating a bit of a hole in the universe that OG Marvel fans can't help but notice. Throughout the life of the Marvel Cinematic Universe fans have been looking for easter eggs and hints about where the X-Men might be, only to be disappointed at bluffs and false flags. 


...And Then Xavier

Fast forward to Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. Dr. Strange is confronted by the alternate Earth's Illuminati. Right before the interrogation begins, in comes professor Charles Xavier, played by space dad Patrick Stewart, in the iconic yellow hovering chair. A small piece from the X-Men cartoon plays and our hearts all stop. 

Mutants have just entered the MCU and it was glorious. 

We only saw one X-Man, but that's all we needed. The universe felt complete. 

With all my complaining about narrative issues, problems with hypocrisy in the comics, continuity issues, and my love of the X-Men stand-alone movies, I lost my mind when Xavier entered the room. 

Do It Justice

Narrative sense and other pretentious arguments aside, there's no denying that Disney and the MCU will do the X-Men right. No matter what issues arise with continuity and cluttered narrative, I have all faith that the MCU will make it work, which is what we really need for the X-Men. The stand alone movies, while awesome in their own right, do have plenty of issues, including trashing some of the best characters (Looking at you, Gambit.) With the X-Men in the MCU we're sure to get some amazing films doing justice to our favorite groups of outcasts as they take their place alongside the Avengers. 

To me, my X-Men.


Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Fantasy and Violence

Does "fantasy" need violence to be good?

I love fantasy. It is the genre of books I read the most. I believe Lord of the Rings movies are perfect. If I play a video game, it is mostly RPG fantasy game. What I like about fantasy is it is a genre that I can escape from the world, and they contain the best stories I have ever read, seen, or played. I love complex stories that give the story depth and lore. I always thought that fantasy needed violence to distinguish the bad guys from the good. However, this year I have read two books that focuses not on fighting the enemy. Apparently, you can have other stresses rather than trying to survive and save the world. I have nothing wrong with violence in movies or shows, but it has been an interesting trend to observe, and I believe there could be more flavors of fantasy if we branched off of this concept.

Like I have mentioned before I believe that Lord of the Rings are perfect movies. The battles were always amazing like the battle at Helm’s Deep in Two Towers. However, they were never the most memorable parts of the movie for me. When I reflect on the messages from it, I think about how similar Frodo and Gollum are, that if it were not for Sam, Frodo would have ended up like Gollum. I think about Gandalf choosing not to touch the ring because he fears that it would tempt him to do evil. I reflect about the council of Elrond where the fellowship was formed and how Merry, Pippen, and Sam bravely volunteered to go on a suicide mission to help a friend. Don’t get me wrong I loved the battle sequences, and they contributed to the perfection of the movie, but I believe the more memorable portion took place outside the battles.

I haven’t seen Rings of Power, but I hope that instead of focusing on tragic battles that led Sauron make the One Ring (I am not even sure if that is the plot of the show), that it focuses on exploring Middle Earth. let us visit the Shire and learn how the Tooks became well known for the bravery (FYI: Gandalf chose Bilbo to be the burglar in The Hobbit because he was a Took). Let’s explore the Ents and see why the woman Ents became silent. We could have a whole season focusing on the best character Tom Bombadil and how he became so powerful that when Frodo gave him the ring, he took it and threw it out because it didn’t matter to him. Truly this post is about how I envisioned the show Rings of Power.

This year I have read a few fantasy books that I believe are great and contain little to no violence, meaning that the plot doesn’t revolve around a battle. The first book is purely delightful; Legends of Lattes. From the title you can gather that this is a casual lighthearted fantasy. Where we follow Viv, an orc barbarian, after years of adventuring decides to retire and open a coffee shop in a small town that never experienced coffee before. As she settles down, she gains new friends and the life she envisioned is slowly achieved. She starts off with just lattes and slowly she adds more delectable items to the menu. She hires a baker who invents new mouth watering delights, like cinnamon rolls, each pastry is described so well that I wanted to buy 12 to appease my salvation. The climax of the book is revolved around a tragic accident that occurs and how she as a person must progress and overcome these setbacks.

The other book that I have been currently reading is The King Killer Chronicles. Contrary to the name of the series it isn’t as violent as you would expect as far as I am aware of. This book is more violent than the predecessor, but it doesn’t revolve around it. The book focuses on an innkeeper named Kvothe who is telling his life story to a man named Chronicler. At the beginning Kvothe teases the reader by giving titles he earned throughout his life, like Kvothe the Bloodless, Kvothe the Arcane, and Kvothe Kingkiller causing us to dedicate time to find how he gained those alternative names as he tells his life story. His life is a life of tragedy, but he makes the best of it. We start with him, as a young prodigy, living with his successful parents as they travelled to do performances across the land. They run into an evil mythical group called the Chandrian, who kills everyone in his company besides Kvothe. He survives the next few years as a homeless boy until he stops morning for his loss and attends the university to become an arcanist (aka wizard). At the university he is trying to learn as much as he can and earn enough money to be able to pay his high tuition or he will be kicked out. As a reader we feel the financial stress that he goes through being homeless and attending the university. Very enjoyable read and I can’t wait to read the third book whenever it comes out.

I thought that fantasy needed violence, but during this year I have discovered that some of my favorite fantasy’s don’t require a climactic battle. It could be hard for TV shows and movies to adapt these not as violent stories, but I believe that it could be possible and it would be remembered as being unique.